love, Ruth Nineke

In What Ways Did You Feel Empty?

Post Published: November 3, 2022

From This Is Growing Up


“And, have you forgiven him for it?”

“I have.”

“Tell me how you did it.”

“Well,” Michelle went on, not missing a beat. 

Kevin didn’t know that he wanted to be there anymore. He didn’t want to hear what he’d done, but he knew it was the only choice.

“I realize I’m as much to blame for how things are, as Kevin is. He was only reacting to a circumstance he didn’t know how to deal with. You know, we were both irresponsible, but we agreed to do the right thing by Grace. I don’t think we went into this really knowing how to get through it. I don’t think either of us understood that it was a day-by-day thing, and that every day we had to put in work, make the effort. 

“And just like raising Grace you know, I’ve learned, that you have to talk with your baby every day, and you have to kiss her, and show her safety, and comfort, and love, and familiarity, and I feel like those are the same things we needed to put into the marriage. But we never did and I never really gave us the chance to. 

“I was always angry at Kevin because he wouldn’t spend time with us. I resented him for it because I knew he was still in love with Brenda, and I felt like if he’d made a decision to marry me, then he owed me more. I felt like he was backing out, so I backed out too. I decided if he wasn’t going to love me and our daughter, then I was just going to do whatever I wanted. You know, I started spending money, I always shopping, and getting my hair done, taking Grace on trips and things. I was trying to fill this need, this emptiness, that I felt was haunting me.”

Kevin was blown away at Michelle’s openness. 

Harris cut in with a question.

“In what ways did you feel empty?”

“I just felt lonely. I didn’t have any friends, you know. Except for some of the people I would see at church, and sometimes lunch and shop with, I didn’t have anybody I could really talk to, you know. And sometimes, I would try with Kevin. I would want to talk. But I knew better. I knew he would only end up angry and hit me. And that made me feel empty too. Because I was married, you know, with this beautiful house, and this beautiful daughter. And on the outside it looked like everything I’d always wanted, but the truth was on the inside it was nothing.”

“Do you still feel empty?” he asked.


“Do you think it’s something you’ll ever get over?”

“I hope so. I don’t know. I don’t think I should still feel this way. Like sometimes when Kevin would lash out at me, I felt like he was trying to keep me feeling bad for Brenda’s leaving. But I know that I didn’t do that. We both cheated on her, yeah, but she chose to handle it one way, and we found a way to deal with our situation. 

“I don’t think I should let it run my life for the rest of my life. I want to learn something about myself. I want to change things that made me act vindictive in the past, so I could have something worthwhile to teach my daughter about life. I want her to be happy, be a good, and loving person. But I don’t know how she can learn any of that from me, or from Kevin, if we can’t bring it out in ourselves, with each other.” 

Michelle looked at him for the first time since they entered the doctor’s house. 

“I guess it’s easy for me to forgive Kevin because he’s Grace’s father. And I just don’t want either of us to hurt anymore. I knew that if I’d left him, it would only get worse. I missed having my dad around a lot, and I don’t want that for Grace. I want her to have both her parents, and to grow up loved, knowing it and really feeling it.”

Kevin felt out of place. He’d been coming to sessions with Harris for over a year, and he could barely open up enough to admit he felt guilty for cheating on Brenda, let alone, disgracing his parents, assaulting and raping his own wife, or even how he really felt about being a father.

“I want that too,” he blurted out.

“What do you want, Kevin?” Dr. Harris asked.

“I want us to be a happy and loving family.”

“What is happiness to you?” the doctor prodded. “What does a loving family mean to you?”

“It means,” he paused, “It means, that my wife and daughter aren’t afraid of me.”


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